Susan Conant Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Susan Conant published her first dog mystery, A New Leash on Life, in 1990, a year before authors Sue Henry and Mary Willis Walker published crime novels depicting female dog training sleuths and working dogs. Although some critics identify Conant as initiating the dog mystery genre, she and her writing peers had prior literary canine-related mystery inspirations, including Sherlock Holmes. In 1983 Barbara Moore wrote The Doberman Wore Black, which featured a veterinarian sleuth assisted by a dog. Nonetheless, Conant established herself as a leading author in that subgenre.

Scholars have generally ignored Conant’s contributions to the mystery genre. Although some critics have found fault with Conant’s writing style, particularly her plotting and development of mystery elements, others have praised her dialogue, depictions of settings, and characterizations, which became more complex and admirable as her writing matured. Her fan base assured Conant of consistent commercial success, and she continued to produce new dog mysteries annually. In 2005, Conant’s reputation as an author who delivered satisfying stories to readers interested in dog mysteries resulted in her introducing a series for cat enthusiasts. Her success also enabled her to pursue writing mysteries with her daughter, addressing a lifestyle and cultural interests unlike those readers experienced in her animal-themed novels.

Conant has striven to introduce readers to the dog world and educate them regarding topics and issues that might otherwise be unfamiliar to them. The Dog Writers’ Association of America has rewarded Conant’s works with its Maxwell Award several times.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Beegan, Daniel. “Her Life’s Work: Going to the Dogs, Books Feature Canines, People in Their Lives.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 6, 1994, p. 3E. An Associated Press feature profile based on an interview with Conant, which provides biographical information and addresses her goal to educate people regarding dogs through her mysteries.

Conant, Susan. “Mysterious Presence.” Radcliffe Quarterly 83, no. 4 (Spring, 1998): 11. Conant compares her research and fiction writing, emphasizing the pleasure of being an academic turned novelist, and discusses her difficult relationship with her mother.

Dale, Steve. “Cover to Cover with Mystery Writer Susan Conant.” Dog World 90, no. 5 (May, 2005): 24-25. Includes personal details about Conant based on conversations with her and her friends and reveals some of her inspirations for her characters and settings.

Heising, Willetta L. Detecting Women: A Reader’s Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Women. 3d ed. Dearborn, Mich.: Purple Moon Press, 2000. Lists include Conant’s books with a brief biography, placing her in context with other dog writers.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Brief sketch of Conant concluding with literary criticism of her early novels.